Disappearing newspapers cause concern

Some readers of The Garden Island who went to buy a newspaper yesterday found out the hard way that they could not get their hands on one.

A drug-bust story and pictures of two suspects ran on yesterday’s front page. The story and pictures may have led to copies of the paper being stolen from vending machines, or bought out at stores from Kukui Grove to the Kapahi Menehune Food Mart.

The newspaper employee who services the stores and vending machines notified the Kaua’i Police Department about the purloined papers early yesterday.

About 900 to 1,000 copies were unaccounted for, said Dave Campbell, circulation manager.

Campbell noted that bundles of yesterday’s paper were stolen from the Wailua Country Store, and from the ABC Discount Store located on Kuhio Highway in Kapa’a.

He said that a paper carrier may have recognized one of the suspects in one of the photos on the day’s front page.

According to Campbell, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., yesterday, a male teenager, about 17 or 18 years old, went into the Rainbow Gas Mart in Kapa’a and wanted to buy all the available copies of The Garden Island.

Campbell said one of the carriers was in front of the store getting the day’s papers ready for home delivery in the Wailua Homesteads area. The teenager approached the carrier and wanted to buy all the carrier’s papers. The carrier would not sell the papers for his home delivery route, and sold just one copy of the paper instead.

According to Campbell, while the teenager was walking away, there was some-body yelling from a vehicle, telling the teenager to buy all the papers.

The carrier looked over to the vehicle and may have recognized the driver as one of the suspects, based on one of the pictures that ran in the paper, said Campbell.

The circulation manager said that all the copies of yesterday’s paper were bought out by one person at the 7-Eleven store in Lihu’e.

Radio personality Ron Wiley of KQNG pointed out that listeners started calling in at 5 a.m., wanting to know what happened to the purloined papers.

Wiley put two callers on the air, one of whom was at the 7-Eleven store when somebody came in and tried to buy all the papers.

Wiley said the caller over-heard one clerk asking another clerk if they were allowed to sell all the papers.

According to Wiley, the other caller said over the air-waves that it looks like somebody did not like their picture.

The drug bust reported on the front page of the Wednesday paper came about after a concerned citizen called in a tip and members of KPD’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit and Ice Task Force did a recent investigation into distribution of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, at a local hotel.

In a press release, police said they arrested Wailua resident Donald Rapozo Jr., 29, at the hotel, for promotion of dangerous drugs and for prohibited acts involving drug paraphernalia.

Also arrested was Sheena Semana, 22, of Wailua, for promotion of dangerous drugs and prohibited acts involving drug paraphernalia.

Semana was released on bail, and Rapozo was released pending further investigation, a police source said.

During the investigation, 93.8 grams of ice was seized. Police estimate the street value of the seizure to be between $9,000 and $10,000, they said in the press release.

Police are investigating possible theft charges over the missing papers.

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